RESIDENTS across Dorset will be asked what is important to them in an unprecedented public consultation campaign.

Staff and councillors from Dorset County Council will be hitting the streets on a summer roadshow over the coming weeks to listen to members of the public on what really matters to them.

Feedback from more than 30 Ask Dorset roadshow events from Tuesday, June 3 will help shape the future priorities of the council as it seeks to trim £43million from its budgets in the next three years and look at different ways of delivering services.

Members of the public will be presented with a number of choices to decide what areas they feel are most important to them.

Council leader Spencer Flower stressed that the exercise was not about the public deciding what to cut and what to save but to inform the authority on its future direction.

He said: “This is not about cuts, it’s a lot more than that.

“This is about redesigning our services so we can continue to sustain our services within our budget.

“This is not a cost saving programme, this is about a fundamental look at how we do things.”

The roadshows will be complemented by an online survey and social media initiatives to get more people engaged as well consultation with traditional stakeholders such as town and parish councils.

The approach will also offer a blank canvas for residents to have their say, rather than the traditional approach the council has taken in the past of consulting on a single issue with a set of specific options.

Chief executive Debbie Ward said: “What we are trying to do is make sure we can get a dialogue going with the community across the whole of the county and we are really trying to get out to the whole of the population across the county.”

The roadshow events will be held at locations such as markets, supermarkets and shopping streets to get away from the traditional village hall type venue.

Members of the public will be given five green buttons that they will be asked to put in boxes relating to 20 key areas, giving them the chance to show what issues are important to them.

Cllr Flower said: “Most people only get engaged when they have something to complain about, but I am hoping we get people engaged in helping us formulate a future way of delivering our services.”